How to design a conveyor system
Conveyor systems are an essential part of many manufacturing and packing environments across a variety of sectors to ensure enhanced production efficiency. In this guide we explain how to design a conveyor system, what they are and key considerations during their design and installation.
What is a conveyor system?
In simple terms, a conveyor system is a piece of equipment designed to efficiently move goods, ingredients or materials from one location to another.
An intelligently designed conveyor system can improve production outputs, reduce the need for manual handling, increase factory space and even lower operational costs. In our experience, conveyors can be an excellent way to quickly improve the operation of a facility.
The various types of conveyor systems means they are flexible enough to be installed in most facilities, with options to suit all facility sizes, budgets and project goals.
Key factors when considering how to design a conveyor system
The first thing our engineers establish are the user requirements of the conveyor(s). I.e., what is its primary function? Is it to reduce manual handling, provide a specific process function, such as cooling, or increase automation of a process, such as rejecting out of specification product or portioning amounts of product to different stations or machines?
We also determine the amount of human interaction required and the type of operations that will have to take place at the conveyor(s), for example flexible packing stations.
Space is one of the first things our engineers consider when approaching a new conveyor system project. Space is at a premium for most manufacturing facilities and understanding the existing factory layout and relationships between different equipment is essential for designing an effective system.
Site environment considerations such as any potential hazards (e.g. explosive atmospheres), humidity and temperature requirements are key, as well as any cross-contamination issues, particularly in food production.
We also need to consider hygiene requirements – for example how much cleaning is required and the type. This is important as it helps us design the conveyor – for example including catch trays, drop-down sides or easily removable belts.
When deciding how to design a conveyor system we need to fully understand your existing equipment in order to ensure it is fully integrated into the finished design (if required). This includes finding out the manufacturer and understanding existing SCADA/PLC systems.
The material being transported
In order to design the most effective system we need to understand exactly what it is it needs to transport. This includes things like size, through-put rates and speeds, composition, ability to flow, humidity, flammability and temperature requirements. When thinking about how to design a conveyor system we also need to know how the product needs to be moved (i.e. continuous or in batches) as this will impact the final design. The product along with the environment affect the choice of materials of construction for the conveyor.
We helped Silvery Tweed increase production by 25% with a cereal cooling conveyor with aims to reduce pre-pack temperatures, reduce floor waste, simplify cleaning and remove the danger of long-term breakdown.
There are numerous types of conveyors for practically every industry you can think of including:
- Pallet conveyors
- Overhead conveyors
- Incline and decline conveyors
- Spiral conveyors
- Belt conveyors
- Last band conveyors
- Wire belt conveyors
- Screw Conveyors
- Aero-mechanical conveyors
- Roller conveyors
- Bucket conveyors
- Cooling conveyors
- Weighing conveyors
- Vibrating conveyors
- Plastic chain conveyors
- Portable conveyors
- Flexible conveyors
- Magnetic conveyors
Dynamic weighing conveyors
Dynamic weighing conveyors measure the weight of the product as they pass a point on a conveyor – they can be used to show total product weight and instantaneous weight passing that point.
They consist of a set of load cells which are connected at one end to a static point and the other to some mechanical device which carries the load of the product. This could be a plate of a fixed size that then has the conveyor belt running across the top of it, or on a larger conveyor with heavier product a set of support rollers that again have the conveyor running across the top
Dynamic weighing conveyors can be used in any industry or application where weight needs to be controlled or monitored. They can be used to monitor total produced product or to control raw product feed to a production process, based on what the product recipe requires.
When considering how to design a conveyor system of this type, it’s important to consider the static load of the weighing platform and what the instantaneous load on it at maximum throughput may be to enable the correct specification of the load cell ranges.
For example, a lightweight cooked product may only need a load cell of a 2kg but a large conveyor taking coal may need something that requires a 100kg range once the weighing platform and the product have both been accounted for. This is because platform may be a 50kg load on the loadcell before product is applied but the load passing over could account for 50kg of extra weight. When setting up the system the 50kg static platform load is removed from the calculation (tare weight).
The speed of the conveyor also needs to be taken into account in the calculation. Is the conveyor fixed or variable speed? If it’s variable then this will need to be fed back in as it changes otherwise the weight values will be wrong.
The below project for 2 Sisters Food Group is a great example of how to design a conveyor system of this type.
Find out how we designed, supplied and installed a set of four conveyors to provide a flexible solution for weighing potatoes during the production process.
Wondering how to design a conveyor system? Our experienced team of in-house engineers offer full conveyor system design, installation and aftercare services, including 2D/3D CAD drawings, integration with existing systems, control panel and PLC functionality and ongoing maintenance.